In a disgraceful mismatch, Floyd Mayweather Jr. returned from a layoff of nearly two years to dominate reigning lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez over twelve rounds in a sham “catchweight” bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Final scores were 119-108, 120-107, and 118-109.
From the selection of Marquez as the opponent to the over-the-top media coverage that bordered on cheerleading to the pathetic weigh-in shenanigans to the tasteless behavior of Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley during the post-fight interview, this “event” was a despicable farce on par with any short con listed in the books, but it lacked the ingenuity and grace of a well-executed swindle. Even a three-card monte game, properly conducted, has more merit. This hoax, unlike a simple shell game performed in the street with cups or bottle caps, had the galvanized support of a boxing press more interested in bootlicking than in analytical thought.
Marquez, now 50-5-1 (37), took a steady beating from the opening bell despite the fact that Mayweather appeared to lack his usual timing and footwork. Mayweather, 32, picked Marquez apart from the outside by alternating jabs to the body and head and by throwing sharp left hooks as both leads and counters. Although Mayweather dropped Marquez with a quick left hook in round two, it seemed like he was trying to work out a few kinks during the early stages of the bout. Marquez, 36, was brave and determined throughout, but his iron will was no match for the impossible task before him.
Each round was a mirror image of the one preceding it: Mayweather scored with his jab, connected with left hooks, dropped an occasional right over the top, and blocked most of the return fire thrown by Marquez. Occasionally Mayweather, 40-0 (25), allowed Marquez to flail away at him on the ropes, but the proud Mexican, who deserved better than to be placed in the humiliating position of being thrashed by a fighter two divisions above him, could not sustain an attack and resembled a man not waving but drowning. From time to time Marquez, 142, would land single shots, but he was too slow and, apparently, top-heavy, to run off combinations.
Mayweather, 32, seemed to use his jab more often than he has in the past and dominated every stanza. According to Compubox figures, Marquez did not land more than 69 blows in the entire fight (or 12 percent of his total punches thrown) and many of those came when Mayweather adopted his defensive posture and allowed the smaller man to take free shots. In the later rounds Mayweather, 146, began to mix punishing lead rights into his offense and a stoppage looked like a distinct possibility by round ten. Marquez suffered a small cut, some swelling, and a bloody nose, and seemed resigned to his fate to begin the 11th. In that round, Mayweather outlanded Marquez by an inconceivable margin of 41 to 5. Somehow Marquez stayed on his feet and Mayweather appeared to give up hopes for a knockout finish in the last round.
“Number One/Numero Uno,” promoted by Golden Boy in association with Mayweather Promotions (wink), and Marquez Promotions (double-wink), is the latest debacle for a company given to blathering on about being saviors of the sport. Its “Back to the Future” routine has so far included $250,000 in small bills handed over to Manny Pacquiao as a signing bonus, “catchweight” bouts usually involving one of its own partners and principals, lots of sanctimonious rigmarole about superior GBP operational procedures, phony weigh-ins, a lawsuit over the alleged theft of the idea behind “The Next Great Champ” flop television show, and Oscar De La Hoya shilling for his promotions on blogs posted on the Ring Magazine website. The post-fight interview saw Golden Boy front office partners Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley harangue Mayweather in a tacky move reminiscent of pro wrestling shtick.
Any complaints printed/posted in retrospect about the fight–or Mayweather himself for that matter–will no doubt be made by the same observers who claimed that size does not matter or that the fight would be “great” or that the keys to victory for Marquez were in reach or that Marquez would pull off an amazing upset because a waxing gibbous moon was in funky alignment with certain stars somewhere over the Azores. Mayweather, whose selection of opponents often leaves something to be desired, can now look forward to being roasted by the same media types who predicted a close and competitive fight.